Princess Princess (プリンセス・プリンセス ) was a five-piece Japanese rock/pop girl band active from 1983 to 1996. They were previously known as “Puri Puri.” In 1984, the band made the first of several appearances on Japanese television, but success was limited. The band made seven concert appearances in 1986, playing in very small venues around Tokyo.
In 1987 the band released their first single as Princess Princess, “Koi wa Balance” (“Love Is Balance”). The single’s lyrics were credited to the band’s guitarist, Kanako Nakayama, but the music was credited to well-known music producer Saburo Suzuki.
At this time the band decided that they would produce their own sound, so all new compositions from then on was credited to band members, with Nakayama and drummer Kyoko Tomita generally splitting the lyric duties while lead singer Kaori Okui took over two thirds of the music credits over the band’s career.
The band still struggled for fan notice, playing approximately 60 small venues, and releasing their second single, “Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu” (“The Hottest Summer in the World”) to little market response.
♪ Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Natsu ♪
In 1988, the band made their major leap for recognition, releasing their first full-length album “Here We Are” and touring during the summer in support of it. The album, which include the songs “19 Growing Up”, “My Will”, “Go Away Boy” and “Romancin’ Blue”, demonstrated significant artistic development and was met with increasing commercial success.
The single “Go Away Boy” reached the Japanese Oricon Top 20 Singles Chart. In November the band released their follow-on third album, Let’s Get Crazy which furthered their commercial momentum with another batch of rock anthems and popular concert standards.
From 1987 through 1989, Princess Princess made one hundred concert appearances, progressing from small clubs to regional public halls. In 1988 the band accomplished the first goal they had as a group: playing the Shibuya Public Hall.
Tickets sold out within two hours, causing their manager to cry. This period of increasing success culminated in their 1989 shows at the Nippon Budokan, where Princess Princess became the first all-female group to play that important Tokyo venue.
Their seventh single, “Diamonds”, was released, quickly rocketing to No. 1 on the Oricon chart; the single also became the first CD single to become a “million seller” in Japan. With the single, Princess Princess joined the ranks of Japan’s top musical artists.
A second single was re-released, and it also went to No. 1, ensuring to Princess Princess the two top spots of the yearly sales rankings. The group made their first nationwide concert tour that summer, and finished out the year by releasing their fourth album, Lovers, which did not feature any single, but reached the No. 1 sales position in the albums chart.
♪ Diamonds ♪
In 1990, the band consolidated their media presence with another nationwide tour, playing 56 venues, including major sports arenas. Their ninth single “Oh Yeah!” was released exactly a year after “Diamonds” and also reached No. 1.The band again finished the year releasing another album, the self-titled Princess Princess, and the single “Julian”, also a No. 1 single.
The following year saw Princess Princess continue their string of No. 1 singles with their 11th single, “Kiss”, which would prove to be the band’s last chart-topping song.Their next single “Seven Years After” peaked only at No. 3; the band’s single sales into the 1990s never approached the heights of their 1989 period. In December 1991 the band released their 6th album, Dolls in Action.
1992 saw the band reduce their musical output, only releasing one new single, “Pilot-ni Naritakute” (“Wanting to Become a Pilot”) and their first compilation album Singles 1987-1992. They ended the year with the ‘double-A single’ “Power”/”Regret” from their 7th studio album Bee-Beep.
Bee-Beep was released in 1993 and was to be the band’s last No. 1 album. In May the band’s keyboardist, Tomoko Konno, experienced a temporary but total hearing loss in one ear, causing the band to field a replacement player since the band was on their customary summer tour at the time.
Konno’s hearing returned in June but there was concern that Konno would have to be replaced, or perhaps even the band would retire. In this last period of their career Princess Princess experienced declining popularity and record sales, with an evident difficulty in maintaining their previous musical output and success.
The four singles from 1993 up to their decision to retire in early 1995 are noticeably easy-listening and more mature-themed than their previous pop rock efforts. Released in late 1993, their 8th album, Majestic, featured less energetic “break up” love songs.In 1994 Konno released a solo album, and Okui also began her solo music activity, and the band filled the year with another compilation album, Presents, which featured fan-voted singles not on their previous compilation.
In 1995 the band informed their label management that they were retiring, a decision taken at the end of the previous year while preparing their next album. According to their statements, there was friction between band members about moving in new musical directions and preserving in the usual artistic path, keeping the image that the band had established over the previous decade of work.
Okui, the main musical force behind the band, also said that songwriting was becoming much more difficult for her:
“In the past it felt that the songs would just come from heaven, without having to think about it, but as time went on it began to become more of a struggle”. Additionally, band members also said that they wanted to end their activity as friends.
In August 1995, the band announced their impending breakup, along with their 20th single, “Fly Baby Fly” (which was the band’s lowest-selling single since before their “break”, only selling 32,000 copies). Their final album, fittingly titled The Last Princess, served as a “goodbye message” to their fans.
In 1996 the band went on one last nationwide tour, ending with a three-night run at the Budokan .
◉ Members： (1983-1996, 2012)
(Left to right)
・Tomoko Konno (今野登茂子 ) (born 1965) – keyboards, vocals
・Atsuko Watanabe (渡辺敦子) (born 1964) – bass guitar, vocals
・Kanako Nakayama (中山加奈子 ) (born 1964) – lead guitar, vocals
・Kaori Kishitani (岸谷香 ) (born 1967) (previously Kaori Okui (奥居香 ) – lead vocals, guitar, piano
・Kyoko Tomita (富田京子 ) (born 1965) – drums and percussion
After 16 years, they reunited in November 2012 for several concerts in order to help with recovery from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
♪ M ♪ (English Version)
♪ M ♪ (Piano Version)
♪ DREAM ♪ by Kaori Kishitani